Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God

"Madonna and Child," Filippo Lippi, 1465
"Madonna and Child," Filippo Lippi, 1465

Mary, the Mother of God

God chose Mary to bring His only Son, Jesus, into the world. Since Mary is the mother of Jesus, and Jesus is God, this makes Mary the Mother of God and the Mother of the Church. This feast day honors Mary’s faithfulness to God and her enthusiastic acceptance of His part for her in His plan of salvation.

Pope Paul VI introduced the feast of the Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God, in 1970 and wrote in his encyclical, Marialis Cultus, "This celebration, assigned to January 1 in conformity with the ancient liturgy of the city of Rome, is meant to commemorate the part played by Mary in this mystery of salvation. It is meant also to exalt the singular dignity which this mystery brings to the holy Mother . . . through whom we were found worthy . . . to receive the Author of life.”

Mary and her Son gave light to a hopeless and sinful world. Similar to the sentiment of this day’s other celebration—New Year’s Day—we look back on the trials and joys of the past and look ahead to days full of blessings, reminding us to ask Mary for her intercession to live a better physical and spiritual life in the year to come. As our Father, God’s love is faithful and strong. As our Mother, Mary is gentle and patient. This celebration, placed at the start of the year, shows that although we celebrate many saints throughout the year, Mary is the most prominent of them all.

Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee. Blessed art thou amongst women and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death. Amen.

World Day of Peace

The Church also uses this Marian feast day as World Day of Peace. Each year the pope sends a message inviting everyone to work toward peace through issues such as ecological conversion, political reform, support of migrants and refugees, nonviolence, racial equality, the fight against poverty, and an end to abortion.

“At the beginning of a new year, the Church invites us to contemplate Mary’s divine maternity as an icon of peace.”—Pope Francis